Monday, April 14, 2014

April 14, 1914: Chief Wilson Leads The Birds To Victory

     On April 14, 1914, in front of 7,500 fans at Robison Field in St. Louis, the Cardinals opened up the season with a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The game winning run came in the bottom of the ninth when Chief Wilson hit a walkoff single that scored Art Butler from third base. Wilson was making his debut with the club that day. He had spent the first six years in Pittsburgh before a trade landed him in St. Louis. Wilson is best known for setting the still standing record for triples in a season with 36, which is something he accomplished in 1912. When he joined the Cardinals in 1914, his numbers were in decline. Despite that fact he still rocked out 12 triples that season, which was good for 2nd best in the National League. Wilson spent three seasons with the Cardinals before his days in the majors came to an end after the 1916 season.

     The game was a well fought battle on both ends. Babe Adams toed the rubber for the Buccos, while Dan Griner got the call for the Birds. Adams was tagged for six hits, and Griner gave up just five. According to the Pittsburgh Press the following day Griner got hit hard, but the Cardinals defense came up big behind him. The Cards grabbed a run in the first inning, before Pittsburgh grabbed their only run of the contest, that came on an error when Cardinals outfielder Cozy Dolan overthrew his target in the second inning. What should have been a single off the bat of Ed Konetchy (who was part of the Wilson deal) ended with the former Cardinal at third base. The Bucs second baseman Jim Viox then knocked Konetchy in with a double to right. Since the error put Konetchy in position to score the run was not charged to Griner who would go on to earn a complete game shutout.

     With the score knotted at 1 the Birds went to work in the bottom of the ninth. Miller Huggins picked up a base hit to lead things off, before Lee Magee flied out.  The Cardinals shortstop Art Butler come to the plate hoping to win it, but ended up hitting into a fielders choice that retired Huggins. However, Butler did some damage on the basepaths and stole second base to set the table for Wilson who laced one right up the middle that brought Butler into score. The Birds got the season started the right way.

     The 1914 season in Cardinal Nation was one in which the club surprised the National League. The team had been cellar dwellers in 1913 as they had posted a National League worst 51-99 record. In 1914 they went 81-72 and were in the thick of the pennant race until late August.  The team was still a number of years off when it came to bringing postseason glory to the fans in St. Louis, however, they were simply writing the early chapters for what has become one of the greatest history books that baseball has ever seen.

Read about the life and career of Chief Wilson here:

You can view Wilson's career numbers here:

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